An International Community of Student Social Entrepreneurs
and Global Citizens
We have duties to those in need around the world.
Placing social impact at the heart of innovations.
Learning through leading. Today and Tomorrow.
Meaningful change requires a relational approach.
Why We Exist
As idealistic students, we saw that that world leaders too often concentrates on the symptoms of injustice, rather than the cause.
In other words, they are too busy putting out fires such as famine, disease, climate change, and war to stand back and consider what we’d ultimately like the world to look like.
What would we like the world to look like?
Our answer: a world of relational equality.
A world where all people are respected by virtue of their common humanity. A world where socially constructed boundaries – class, nationality, religion, race – do not undermine one’s treatment as an equal global citizen.
A world where the accepted dignity of all demands that everyone has their basic needs met without having to beg for charity. Where peoples can work together to tackle the issues that affect us all.
How to create such a world?
We don’t pretend to have a definite answer, but we do believe that it’ll take a dualistic approach.
- To meet everyone’s basic needs as a condition of their dignity;
- To deconstruct oppressive barriers which run contrary to the principle that all people are created equal.
It was the second of these conditions that really got us thinking.
What is the greatest barrier to global equality?
We identified nationalism – valuing fellow nationals above outsiders.
It limits our governments’ action to help those whose basic needs are not being met. And, it prevents collective action on global issues from climate change to human rights abuses.
Moreover, it has no natural platform to be opposed. It is not as if we can simply vote against nationalism at our next election – that election will itself be set inside the boundaries of a nation.
And, as students we did not have the capacity to create a campaign for global citizenship and integration. Indeed, even if we had the resources, the world simply wasn’t ready for such a message.
What could we do to challenge this?
We directed our efforts into laying the foundations for a future platform for global citizenship.
We were influenced by theories of civil society as the basis for formations of just and democratic societies.
Civil society consists of all associations and relationships between people. These relationships influence each other and representative governments, whether intentionally or not.
How to strengthen international civil society?
Authentic. Life-long. International friendships.
With each new international friendship, the values of global citizenship are sown. People become more aware of the irrelevance of socially constructed boundaries. Myths of ‘them’ and ‘us’ are deconstructed. And people are compelled to act when they hear of need.
How to build international friendships?
Performing introductions wouldn’t be enough. For friendships to develop there needed to be commonality between people. Specifically, a common status in society and a common purpose from which the relationship arises.
So, we decided to focus on students and shape the relationships around tasks which meet the basic needs of communities – linking back to our first condition for our world of relational equality.
in natural hubs for innovation
Inspired by the example of Facebook spreading from a few campuses to hundreds of millions of people, it dawned on us that universities are the natural catalyst for building international civil society.
Why International Volunteering?
Building on our focus on relationships, we were inspired by community organising, made famous by Obama, which views building equal relationships between disparate members of a community as fundamental to creating positive and lasting change within the society.
Traditional charity or volunteering is critiqued by this theory for often reinforcing barriers between the giver and the recipient, rather than creating lasting bonds. But if the charity is done with a participatory approach including stakeholders within the community then this can be avoided.
By applying such an approach to international volunteering, we overcome traditional objections to ‘voluntourism’ as being culturally insensitive and of limited social impact.
How to maximise our impact?
To have a meaningful impact strengthening international civil society, we need to create many thousands of friendships. Yet, we can’t afford to fly students around the world.
So – differentiating us from nearly all other international volunteering organisations – we start these relationships online, over email and internet calls, utilising the new world-wide reach of social media. If students could raise funds for a physical exchange, then all the better.
Student groups are created at universities all over the world to recruit student volunteers for community projects.
And, to increase the chances of impactful partnerships, we screen and support student social action projects through consultancy sessions.